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The Benefits Of Talking To Iran

The United States' attempts to tailor the settlement of complex international conflicts to the needs of election races are a grim reality, but some countries know how to exploit it. The Iranians do not have to borrow from North Korea's experience -- they are good at arm-twisting themselves. They may keep the negotiations going for another year or two. But if Tehran really wants to reach an agreement with Washington, here is an opportunity. It is no accident that Iran has just resumed talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, in Vienna, promising to remove all doubts about its nuclear programs. The United States has not threatened Iran with sanctions for a long time now.
by Dmitry Kosyrev
UPI Outside View Commentator
Moscow (UPI) Aug 02, 2007
In time, things that once seemed impossible can become part of our everyday reality. Who would have imagined a hundred years ago that space travel would one day become so routine that only catastrophes are deemed front-page news? Though it took decades for space travel to develop, the nature of relations between Washington and Tehran has fundamentally changed in much less time.

So far, the two sides have only met twice in Baghdad at the ambassadorial level, and the discussion has been limited to Tehran's role in Iraq. But still, the Bush administration is doing what would have been unthinkable a year or two ago: talking with the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that is, with a country that has been blacklisted as part of the "axis of evil" for more than four years now.

The U.S. president first mentioned the axis of evil in his State of the Union address to Congress on Jan. 29, 2002. He accused Iraq, North Korea and Iran of secretly attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction. In 2002 nobody doubted that Washington's goal was regime change in these three countries, whether they had secret plans or not.

President George W. Bush, whose term expires in January 2009, will be remembered for his challenge to those countries and the consequences that ensued. Iraq is occupied, but it has buried America's hopes of ruling the world. North Korea has simply made a deal with the United States and got what it wanted. Now Iran is following suit, having subjected Washington, and others, to exhausting diplomacy for months. As a result, the axis has won, not three to zero, but 2.5 to 0.5. Small wonder then that the expression has gone out of circulation.

What next? At first sight, Iran and the United States are not likely to reach any agreements because the Bush administration is talking with Tehran for exclusively domestic political reasons.

Recently, a bill was submitted to Congress to ban the use of budget funds by the administration for air raids and other military operations in Iran without congressional permission. It does not matter that the bill has four qualifications allowing Bush to do without Congress in the event of war. Neither is it important that the bill is unlikely to pass because the Democrats have just failed to push through Congress a similar bill on pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. But with the upcoming elections in mind, the Democrats want to show their antiwar credentials, while the Republicans do not want to be seen as warmongers. This is why they have settled the dispute with North Korea and are now talking with Iran. Talking is more important than reaching an agreement.

Yet a year and a half or two years ago, there was not a ray of hope that the Iranian crisis would be settled, and now there seems to be a chance. In both North Korea and Iran, Russia tried to keep the negotiations going, even if they seemed desperate at times. Its main goal was to prevent tensions from leading to sanctions, confrontation or the use of force, and to wait for a situation in which sensible decisions could be made.

This policy worked for North Korea. Will it succeed with Iran?

The United States' attempts to tailor the settlement of complex international conflicts to the needs of election races are a grim reality, but some countries know how to exploit it. The Iranians do not have to borrow from North Korea's experience -- they are good at arm-twisting themselves. They may keep the negotiations going for another year or two. But if Tehran really wants to reach an agreement with Washington, here is an opportunity. It is no accident that Iran has just resumed talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, in Vienna, promising to remove all doubts about its nuclear programs. The United States has not threatened Iran with sanctions for a long time now.

What will Iran choose to do? Is it better to get concessions out of the Republicans, who want to improve their image by showing the voters that they are good negotiators? Or should Iran play against the Republicans and drag out the talks in the hope of getting more from the Democrats when they come to power? The second option appears to be more difficult, but not necessarily worse.

In any case, it is clear that the axis of evil is now an obsolete notion.

Dmitry Kosyrev is a political commentator for RIA Novosti. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interest of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.

Source: United Press International

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Cheney Favors Attack On Iran
Washington DC (UPI) July 30, 2007
Diplomatic arm-wrestling between Iran and the West over the future of the Islamic republic's nuclear program has not prevented talk of the military option as a solution to the crisis, despite the tsunami-like reaction such a military adventure would generate in the Arab and Islamic world. Of late, there has been much speculation regarding the probability of U.S. and/or Israeli military strikes intended to destroy the Islamic republic's nuclear power sites before they become fully operational.







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